Coordinating Safety Building and Sustaining Offices of Violence Prevention and Neighborhood Safety

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Communities across the country have been harmed by violence for decades, and government leaders have struggled to deliver impactful solutions. In particular, an overreliance on policing has not produced the safety that communities need and deserve. Community organizers working to address violence have long recognized that a different approach is needed—one that comes from a deep understanding of a community’s needs, uses data to guide strategies, and prioritizes prevention and intervention rather than punishment. One innovative way for governments to incorporate these tenets into policy and practice—and to provide better, more sustainable support to community-based efforts—is by building centralized local offices of violence prevention or neighborhood safety (OVP/ONS). These offices have the potential to radically transform governmental approaches to public safety. This report summarizes the current state of OVP/ONS nationally and identifies promising practices and recommendations to create and support these offices.

Key Takeaway

When they are effectively resourced, structured, and authorized, local OVP/ONS can support and lead a coordinated public safety ecosystem—one that empowers civilian government and community-based personnel and resources, rather than law enforcement, as the hub of public safety.

Publication Highlights

  • Community advocacy, organizing, and participation have been critical to establishing OVP/ONS.

  • OVP/ONS convene and coordinate government and community stakeholders. Reducing silos and increasing collaboration contributes to more effective strategic planning and strengthens the public safety ecosystem.

  • Key components of office success include clarity of mission and scope, sufficient resourcing and authority, robust community engagement and planning, and insulation from political transitions.